Getting Serious About Opportunity For All

Today is an important day. The launch of the Sustainable Development Goals signals a historic moment in the fight against poverty, disease and suffering and the fight for equity, equality and justice.

In the push to get every last child access to at least a basic education however, the last few years have been tough. Financing has continued to decline and the number of children out of school is on the rise. Developing aid to education is down ten percent. Domestic spending is declining or stagnant in some of the countries most in need of progress. Conflict and emergencies has resulted in the largest displacement of children since WWII with many out of school for their entire childhood as less than 2% of humanitarian funding goes to education. We stopped making progress and started going backwards.

Nearly 60 million of the most vulnerable children in our world are still denied access to at least the basic education that could save them from the worst forms of poverty and exploitation. Even more adolescents are not in education. And hundreds of millions leave school having not mastered even the most basic skills.

The new SDG goal on education includes the old goal, but pushes the deadline back 15 years and greatly expands the scope of what we are trying to achieve. On the one hand this is exciting -- the inclusion of a target on early childhood education could lead to tremendous progress particularly for those most at risk. On the other hand, if the last few years are any indicator, many world leaders seem unprepared for the level of effort this expanded agenda and the more complex challenges that must be tackled will require.

The launch of the SDGs must be moment when we consider far more seriously how to reverse trends. It must be a moment to galvanize political will for better planning and financing and develop a much greater understanding of way that education underpins every single other Sustainable Development Goal. We've made progress in some areas of health that is unprecedented -- holding on to those health gains depends on making far greater progress in education -- particularly for those most likely to be left behind: girls, children with disabilities and children living in conflict and emergencies.

The launch of the new International Commission on Financing Global Education, supported through the leadership of Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, hopes to be a key part of this solution as it has the potential to not only make a renewed and stronger investment case for education, but set forward an agenda for action to deliver opportunity to all children and youth.

Young people have shown how hard they are willing to work to claim their right to education. Now we all must work harder to make sure that we target those left behind so that all children and young people everywhere have equal opportunities no matter where they live.
Today, 10 million signatures calling for universal education were delivered to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Learn how you can stand #UpForSchool.